Littell's Living Age/Volume 173/Issue 2237/My Chaffinch

Originally published in Pall Mall Gazette.

214283Littell's Living AgeVolume 173, Issue 2237 : My ChaffinchRichard Jefferies

His hours he spends upon a fragrant fir;
     His merry "chink," his happy "Kiss me, dear,"
Each moment sounded keeps the copse astir.
     Loudly he challenges his rivals near,
Anon aslant down to the ground he springs
Like to a sunbeam made of colored wings.

The firm and solid azure of the ciel
     That struck by hand would give a hollow sound;
A dome turned perfect by the sun's great wheel,
     Whose edges rest upon the hills around,
Rings many a mile with blue enamelled wall;
His fir-tree is the centre of it all.

A lichened cup he set against the side,
     High up this mast, earth-stepped, that could not fail,
But swung a little as a ship might ride,
     Keeping an easy balance in the gale;
Slow-heaving like a gladiator's breast
Whose strength in combat feels an idle rest.

Whether the cuckoo or the chaffinch most
     Do triumph in the issuing of their song?
I say not this, but many a swelling boast
     They throw each at the other all day long.
Soon as the nest had cradled eggs a-twin
The jolly squirrel climbed to look therein.

Adown the lane athwart this pleasant wood
     The broad-winged butterflies their solace sought,
A green-necked pheasant in the sunlight stood
     Nor could the rushes hide him as he thought,
A humble-bee through fern and thistle made
A search for lowly flowers in the shade.

A thing of many wanderings, and loss,
     Like to Ulysses on his poplar raft,
His treasure hid beneath the tunnelled moss
     Lest that a thief his labor steal with craft,
Up the round hill, sheep-dotted, was his way
Zigzagging where some new adventure lay.

"My life and soul," as if 'he were a Greek.
     His heart was Grecian in his greenwood fane;
"My life and soul," through all the sunny week
     The chaffinch sang with beating heart amain.
"The humble-bee the wide wood-world may roam;
One feather's breadth I shall not stir from home."

No note he took of what the swallows said
     About the firing of some evil gun,
Nor if the butterflies were blue or red,
     For all his feelings were intent in one.
The loving soul a-thrill in all his nerves
A life immortal as a man's deserves.